African Proverbs

  • A barber does not shave himself.
  • A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches.
  • A child's fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which his mother puts into his palm.
  • A comb becomes bad when it hurts you.
  • A cutting word is worse than a bowstring, a cut may heal, but the cut of the tongue does not.
  • A fool looks for dung where the cow never browsed.
  • A fool may chance to put something into a wise man's head.
  • A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride.
  • A stranger has big eyes but sees nothing.
  • A stream cannot rise about its source.
  • A weapon which you don't have in your hand won't kill a snake.
  • Ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them.
  • Before shooting, one must aim.
  • Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain in a bag with a hole.
  • Do not call to a dog with a whip in your hand.
  • Don't set sail on someone else's star.
  • For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
  • He who is being carried does not realize how far the town is.
  • He who is born a fool is never cured.
  • He who learns, teaches.
  • He who talks incessantly, talks nonsense.
  • If a child washes his hands he could eat with kings.
  • If you climb up a tree, you must climb down the same tree.
  • If you don't stand for something, you will fall for something.
  • If you don't work you shan't eat.
  • If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.
  • If you run after two hares you will catch neither.
  • If you're going home, you don't get wet.
  • If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
  • If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips.
  • It is not what you are called, but what you answer to.
  • It is not with saying, "Honey," "Honey," that sweetness will come into the mouth.
  • It is not work that kills, but worry.
  • It's a bad child who does not take advice.
  • One must talk little and listen much.
  • Peace is costly but it is worth the expense.
  • Quarrels end, but words once spoken never die.
  • Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you.
  • Seeing is better than hearing.
  • Seeing is different than being told.
  • Send a boy where he wants to go and you see his best pace.
  • Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
  • The day the monkey is destined to die, all the trees get slippery.
  • The egg shows the hen where to hatch.
  • The end of an ox is beef, and the end of a lie is grief.
  • The fool speaks, the wise man listens.
  • The fool sucks wisdom, as he porter sups, And cobblers grow fine speakers in their cups.
  • The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.
  • To try and to fail is not laziness.
  • Two birds disputed about a kernel, when a third swooped down and carried it off.
  • We start as fools and become wise through experience.
  • When a fool is cursed, he thinks he is being praised.
  • When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful.
  • When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it.
  • When elephant steps on a trap, no more trap.
  • When elephants fight, it is the grass who suffers.
  • When the big tree falls, the goat eats its leaves.
  • When the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
  • When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
  • When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.
  • When you know who his friend is, you know who he is.
  • When you live next to the cemetery, you cannot weep for everyone.
  • Whether the knife falls on the melon or the melon on the knife, the melon suffers.
  • Whoever tells the truth is chased out of nine villages.
  • Whom a serpent has bitten a lizard alarms.
  • Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight.
  • You can tell ripe corn by its look.
  • You must judge a man by the work of his hands.

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